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6:00 p.m. - 2006-11-17
A Big Cat
Happy Friday, all!

I hope your week was smoov and your weekend is shaping up to be super Hott!

Sort of a slow week in critter news. Here's a report on our cousin, the neanderthal.

In Cali, a crab extravaganza!

In the sky, lots 'o meteor action.

The genesis for today's Critter Corner Creature Feature is two-fold. First, I've been thinking about getting a cat lately. I haven't had an indoor mammalian pet since I was four. But I've been thinking of all the cute things a cat would do, and of course it's dangerous to scroll through all of the pet adoption pages....

Secondly, R and I were watching the Minnesota Wild win their match against the Nashville Predators. It seems the "Predators" symbol resembles a sabre-toothed tiger, which is slightly more recognizable than the insignia for the MN "Wild".

So, let us focus on the toughest big cat in America, the Mountain Lion!

A wonderful specimen of Felis concolor from the Minnesota Zoo:

Mountain lions are also called cougars, panthers and pumas. Aren't they magnificent?

These felines (there are 30 subspecies) are residents of most of South and Central America, the desert Southwest, all the way up to southern Canada. Our neighbor South Dakota even hosts an open season for cougars. In 2005 this period lasted from Oct. 1st to Oct. 24, during which five female cougars were taken. The hunting takes place in the Black Hills, and apparently this habitat holds more than the 145 cougars it can support. Hmmm...this sounds okay to me; it seems the state is very careful to protect mama mountain lions from the hunt, and it's a very cautiously regulated event.

The "concolor" in Felis concolor stands for "one color". Usually panthers are tawny-colored, but can be gray or reddish as well. The animals usually feature black-tipped ears and tails.

From head to tail, male mountain lions can reach up to eight feet long and 130 to 220 lbs. Females are slightly smaller at seven feet long and 65 to 140 lbs. Cougars can make a running leap of up to 45 feet, as well as making vertical leaps up to 15 feet in height.

Mountain lions are mostly solitary, and are one of the few larger cats who are active in the daytime. Their favorite meal is usually deer, both Mule and White-tailed, and they also enjoy antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, domesticated cattle (especially foals), goats and piggies. To supplement their diet, cougars also eat rodents, bunnies and occasionally grass.

Male cougars can have a territory of up to 100 square miles! Usually the smaller territories of several females lie within a male's region. Puma love is established by the estrus cycle of the female. The male determines this by the scent of her urine, and apparently the female cat makes a loud "scream" when she needs some love put on her.

After the nooky, the male departs. He does protect the pregnant female from other male cougars, however. After about 95 days, the female gives birth to one to three cubs. Murrrrr! (I mean, "Purrrrr"!) Cougar cubs weigh one half to one pound, and are blind, spotted, and woolly-coated.


Adorbs! After two weeks the cubs eyes open, and at six weeks they might join mama at a carcass for lunch. Cougars are good moms; usually the cubs stay with her for 20 to 24 months.

Now, the mountain lion is the SECOND largest cat in the New World. The largest (and the third largest cat in the world) is the South American jaguar, Panthera onca. Their lifestyle is similar to their smaller cougar cousins, except jaguars live in the rainforest and eat things like peccaries and sloths and such. For your reference and critter knowledge, here is a jaguar picture:


(In some photos of black jaguars you can see their spots! But not this one.) Rooarrrr!

I hope you and your cat/s were inspired by this post!



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